Day five arrived and with it another opportunity for the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) athletes to get to their individual sports. The day was about delivering under pressure and exploring how and why athletes do and don’t perform to their best. The group were encouraged to think about their energy levels, hydration, nutrition, and generally practising to be an athlete or world class staff member.
With this is in mind, the triathlon group headed off first bright and early to Copacabana to watch the ParalympicsGB women in action. The sun shone brightly and spirits were high as Lauren Steadman won a Silver medal in the PT4 event and a dramatic race in the PT5 event saw Alison Patrick and guide Hazel Smith take silver and fellow Brit Melissa Reid and her guide Nicole Walters snatch Bronze. With the theme of exploring what it takes to perform under pressure, PiP athlete Lizzie Tench took the opportunity to discuss tactics with the men’s team who were there to support their female counterparts.
Table tennis athlete Billy Shilton made the journey to Rio Centro to experience more of the action in his sport, with numerous matches going on simultaneously it was a real rush for the senses. A couple of Brazilian players were in action and that meant experiencing a home crowd in full voice which was something to behold. Brit Will Bayley was playing during that commotion and did well to hold his nerve to take the Semi-Final match and book his place in the Final. It was also good to see the mix zone where the media were lined up ready for interviews with the players.
Brandon Coleman headed to Football 5-a-side with his coach Adam – and enjoyed watching two matches, including one where the hosts Brazil took on Turkey. Both took a lot from observing the capacity home crowd and understanding how the players, who rely on sound to play the game, managed in a noisier than usual environment.
The afternoon saw the group come together and make the journey to the athletics where several British military athletes were in action. Richard Whitehead and Dave Henson dominated in T42 200m Final claiming Gold and Bronze respectively.
After the race, Dave said: “Five and a half years ago I nearly died. Today’s date (9/11) is pretty important. I’ve been through a lot with my friends, and lost a lot along the way so this is a big day.
“Two years to the day, I won gold at the very first Invictus Games in London and then a week later I gave up smoking and thought I’d give Rio a bash. It just shows you want you can do.”
In the field events Jo Butterfield won Gold and claimed a World Record in the F51 Club Throw.
Elsewhere today military athlete Jon-Allan Butterworth won Gold in the C1-5 Team Sprint in the Velodrome with team mates Jody Cundy and Louis Rolfe – a fantastic day all in all.
Tomorrow will see wave one of the PiP programme draw to a close. The morning will be focused on pulling everything together from the past five days, exploring what it takes to deliver medals at a Paralympic Games. The second group arrive on Tuesday and will be welcomed by the staff team.
Military athlete Mikey Hall takes to the archery field tomorrow in the Team Compound event.